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Giving: Is it a gift or a contract?

August 9, 2010
Homeless Anonimity by .craig

Homeless Anonimity

How would you feel if you gave a homeless person money and later found out they spent it on beer and cigarettes? Are you angry that they didn’t use the money more wisely, say on a sandwich? Or would you feel happy that they used the money as they wished?

It’s a sensitive question, and one that recently jostled me in an article called “Gifts vs. Contracts,” that I’ll summarize. The writer points out that a gift, by definition, is something transferred to another without receiving anything in return. If, however, you give something to another to do something specific, you’re actually entering a contract.

There’s a difference in your uncle giving you $100 free of expectations and getting that same $100 to pay your electricity bill. If you end up spending the money to see your favorite band (who rocked), your uncle could either be glad you rocked out with his gift or angry that you broke the contract and didn’t pay your bill.

It’s something to think about the next time you’re handing something over – and this could apply to your money, time, or really anything at all.

Are you giving a gift that’s free of expectations or are you actually extending a contract? How do your expectations alter the gift your giving?

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